Lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease

There is not one drug, one vitamin, or one food that will prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It’s your entire lifestyle that makes a difference. Nutrition, stress management, sleep, and physical activity are all important.Alzheimer’s disease

Diet

The health of a person’s brain is dictated to a large extent by the state of their gut. Our gut has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system, there is a constant cross talk btw the brain and the gut.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers at the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago studied 960 adults (with average age of 81.4 years) over 4.7 years who were free of dementia when they enrolled.

The study found that people who followed the diet more rigorously showed an equivalent of being 7.5 years younger cognitively than those who followed the diet the least strictly.

The same study found that the MIND diet may halve a person’s risk in developing Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is the MIND Diet?

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

The MIND diet aims to reduce dementia and the decline in brain health that often occurs as people get older. It combines aspects of two very popular diets, the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Currently, there are no set guidelines for how to follow the MIND diet. Simply eat more of the 10 foods the diet encourages you to eat, and eat less of the five foods the diet recommends you limit.

10 Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet

Here are the 10 foods the MIND diet encourages:

  • Green, leafy vegetables: Aim for six or more servings per week. This includes kale, spinach, cooked greens and salads.
  • All other vegetables: Try to eat another vegetable in addition to the green leafy vegetables at least once a day. It is best to choose non-starchy vegetables because they have a lot of nutrients with a low number of calories.
  • Berries: Eat berries at least twice a week. Although the published research only includes strawberries, you should also consume other berries like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries for their antioxidant benefits. Thank goodness we have strawberries in NIgeria
  • Nuts: Try to get five servings of nuts or more each week. The creators of the MIND diet don’t specify what kind of nuts to consume, but it is probably best to vary the type of nuts you eat to obtain a variety of nutrients. Walnuts have been highly recommended for brain health. REMEMBER: Peanuts aka Groundnuts are not considered in this group
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil as your main cooking oil. Coconut oils have also been found to be excellent for improved brain health
  • Whole grains: Aim for at least three servings daily. However, for those who are diabetic, it’s been advised they minimize ingestion of this food group
  • Fish:  It is best to choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Sixty to seventy percent of the brain is made up of fat, eating foods rich in unhealthy fats is harmful to brain function, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are highly recommended
  • Beans: Include beans in at least four meals every week. This includes all beans, lentils and soybeans.
  • Poultry: Try to eat chicken or turkey at least twice a week. Note that fried chicken is not encouraged on the MIND diet.

Herbs

Brain that are low in India, believed to be due to the high doses of Turmeric and other spices in their diet. The rates are lowest in the rural areas where they still eat the traditional diet. Due to exportation of the western culture, the rates are increasing in the city. Other herbs include saffron have been found to be beneficial in managing mild cognitive impairments.

Brain stimulation

The brain is a muscle, if u don’t use it, u lose it

Alzheimer’s diseaseA recent paper examined the brains of nuns who had all the classic brain features of Alzheimer’s. Research into their lifestyle showed they sang a lot. It must not be singing, there are other ways to stimulate your brain like reading aloud, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Knitting, playing board games or learning other crafts during mid-life can reduce memory loss by 40%-50%. Television is not a hobby! Elders who spent their day (7 or more hours) watching television are 50% more likely to experience memory loss. Some evidence shows playing a musical instrument also helps protect cognitive function.

Get social

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in seven people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s live alone. That adds up to 800,000 people! Socially active people have up to a 50% reduced risk of developing dementia. Social engagements can provide a buffer against dementia, including improving your mood and giving you a support network when you need it the most. Volunteering with friends may serve a double effect by improving mood and providing a purpose

Stress Management

Stress is one of the big illnesses of our time. It has been found to literarily shrink the brain. A part of the brain known as the hippocampus which controls learning and memory is most affected. Mindfulness meditation has been found to structurally increase the size of the brain and improve cognitive functioning

Exercise

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Walking for 30 minutes, 5 times a day has been found beneficial in reducing the risk of cognitive decline

These are just a few “summarized” points.

In essence, your body has beautiful self-healing mechanisms if it is treated with tender loving care.

Show your body love and it will treat you well.

For those with  genetic predispositions, REMEMBER, your genes are not your destiny!

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